In order to address financial concerns, a corporate bitch or bastard is hired to run a family-type organization. He/she soon institutes a reign of terror that would give the ghost of Robespierre pause. Employee after loyal employee is isolated, accused and sent to the guillotine. Those that are spared are focused on two things — shuddering and deciding whether or not to buy a pack of Depends.

Mara Manus, executive director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center

We’ve all seen this movie before, and the melodrama that’s been going on at the Film Society of Lincoln Center for the past two or three months pretty much is that movie. But if you were the casting director which actress would you hire to play Mara Manus, the FSLC’s sabre-toothed exec director? Laura Linney? Allison Janey? Catherine Keener?

It’s commonly understood that the numerous firings and resignations that have decimated the FSLC community are due to Manus’s iron hand since she was hired as executive director last September. Yesterday’s news of the departure of the org’s associate program director Kent Jones is the latest in a series of rolling heads that have included publicist Jeanne Berney, arts programming Joanna Ney and something like nine or ten others — a 25% staff reduction.

An FSLC spokesperson says that Jeanne Berney and Kent Jones resigned of their own accord.

The kisses of steel have been officially attributed to the tight economy and a need to streamline and bring down costs. But a former employee told me this morning that “it’s not a money problem [but] a leadership issue” — i.e., Manus and her ruthless, control-freak management style.

Manus was hired due to a notable run as chief of Manhattan’s Public Theater which, according to Indiewire‘s Anthony Kaufman, resulted in “doubling the downtown theater institution’s budget, increasing individual support by 270% and subscriber revenue by 134%.”

And yet Manus “reportedly clashed with artistic director Oskar Eustis and was disliked by some staffers for her aloof corporate style, hierarchical approach, and hiring those who shared her views and firing or alienating those that didn’t. ‘Her office was pretty much off-limits,” said one former Public staffer. ‘There was never any effort to be inclusive. When she started bringing in people, she set up barriers and people felt the pressure of not being connected.'”